Increasing fifth generation war

ByElsa Sc S

Doing her graduation from LUMS & a keen researcher


March 15, 2023

Elsa Sc S points out to an
ever-present menace

Fifth generation warfare is on and Pakistan visibly feels its menacing impact. Despite many efforts to curb its harmful influence the war has not been stemmed. The primary and ultimate focus of this war is all about engaging enemy in all types of warfare from all the fronts simultaneously. The threats are multiple ranging from conventional to non-conventional to irregular and supersede all types of warfare witnessed by the human race. Hybrid warfare is a form of warfare that is more decentralised, fluid and asymmetrical in its nature and it is a tactic designed to target adversary’s opportunity of growth without waging a real war.

The mutation of warfare into hybrid warfare took place after the end of Cold War in 1989 after which one of its protagonists, the Soviet Union, disintegrated just after its end. This type of war is the combination of regular, irregular forces implying that forces that the state does not own, such as insurgent groups, proxy force, criminal network, political organisation to conduct blend of traditional and non-traditional acts of warfare. It supports political, economic pressures through information influence and cyber operations. The salient features of hybrid warfare include propaganda to instill agenda into people’s minds negative perceptions along with spreading deception through a barrage of lies so that provide a smokescreen for carrying out nefarious designs. One method is sabotage through which leading personalities of a political system are maligned.

Hybrid war differs from other wars because due to technological changes and global interconnectivity, it has introduced speed, scale and intensity. It uses social media and cyber attacks that are aimed at destabilising enemy. It is often mentioned that India and Israel are waging a hybrid war against Pakistan through destabilise economy, providing support to insurgent groups, bribing Pakistani politicians and instigating social media war against Pakistani national institutions particularly the army. The examples involve hacking, subversion of banking systems, currency manipulation, terrorism and media disinformation. Such techniques are intended to paralyse decision making through confusion and discourage victims from responding forcefully due to absence of legitimate military targets.

The role of social media has been enhanced whereby disinformation, propaganda and fake news are being disseminated to achieve ulterior political motives. Another critical tool and strategy of hybrid warfare is coercive diplomacy through which international powers achieve their goals through economic means such as by placing trade restrictions, economic sanctions, through IMF and FATF. In this context the US has many times placed sanctions on states that oppose its interests, such as China, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.

The benefit of hybrid warfare is that it obscures the involvement of an aggressor state. It is precisely through these methods that India is trying to destabilise Pakistan. India has been fuelling secessionist movements in Balochistan by aiding dissidents and its obvious example is a commander of Indian Navy who was caught and later confessed pursuing nefarious agenda of India including terrorism. The underprivileged Baloch youth is being brain washed as ethnic BLA and BLF terrorists that are engaged in unlawful activities.

After Iran, Pakistan has the largest Shia population and simmering sectarian issues clearly exhibit that an outside hand is using its proxy to push Pakistan into sectarian crisis. One of the main points of Indian hybrid warfare is to isolate Pakistan on diplomatic front by maligning its image. India has accused Pakistan on multiple times for sponsoring terrorism whereas India is unleashing unprecedented brutalities in Indian occupied Kashmir. Another insidious threat to Pakistan that is exploited in hybrid warfare comes from extremism as it has created a sharp divide in society. India hacked websites of Pakistan foreign embassies and launched cyber attacks on many Pakistani institutions.

One important aspect of hybrid warfare are related to the violations of Indus Water Treaty that India has stepped up and its official leadership is consistently vowing to stop flow of water to Pakistan. Many interruptions in water flow to Pakistan from Indian side have been noted and Pakistan has been consistently protesting about them. India has also heightened media war against Pakistan and it tries hard to influence opinions. The problem is that the youth is the most vulnerable segment exposed to disinformation and fake news deployed as a tool in hybrid warfare.

The age of social media has made it impossible for any government to control fabrication of events and ideas and the state finds itself outmaneuvered by the power of media, cell-phone and internet connections. In the battle of narratives, a country being attacked suffers. Due to various ethnicities and identities existing in Pakistan, it is highly vulnerable to hybrid war and it must be equipped with active advanced surveillance techniques and respond effectively to hybrid threats. There are many ways to counter hybrid warfare and the most important is the strong coordination among intelligence agencies and economic departments. TW


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